Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Michigan DNR announces site-specific state campground reservations will soon be available in 'shoulder season'

The Huron River within the Ann Arbor area. 2010
The Huron River within the Ann Arbor area. 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Summer campers at Michigan’s state parks have long enjoyed the advantages of site-specific campground reservations, meaning they can reserve a specific campsite at a park and be guaranteed that campsite during their visit. Soon, campers during the "shoulder season" - mid-September to late May - will also enjoy the benefit.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently transitioning to a new, improved central reservation system (CRS) with many customer-driven improvements and features, including the addition of site-specific campground reservation capabilities for shoulder season guests. The new system provides parks with the equipment necessary to make site-specific reservations a reality.

“This is an important improvement for the many fall and winter campers who would prefer to select a specific campsite before arriving at the campground,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “We not only listened to what our guests had to say, we acted on their suggestions and now, beginning next month when the new system is implemented, this opportunity will become available.”

The registration station, made available near the campground office, makes the shoulder season site-specific reservations possible by providing assistance to campers during a time of year when park staff may be limited due to reduced staffing levels, seasonal maintenance and other operational needs. The registration station includes a yellow phone that automatically contacts the CRS call center, located in Ann Arbor, when the receiver is lifted. Campers can then work with the call center to conveniently register for any available campsite, and then continue on to their site. This is also an important feature because - after the transition to the new CRS - site-standard reservations (reserving a spot at a park but not a specific site) will no longer be available.

“With implementation of site-specific reservations during the shoulder season, it’s now very important that guests without reservations utilize the registration station prior to setting up camp,” said Jason Fleming, DNR parks and recreation operations unit manager. “Although campsites may be unoccupied at the time, they may already be reserved for that night. Registering first at the station will prevent unfortunate situations requiring unregistered campers to move sites because a particular site is already taken.”

During the transition phase to the new CRS, customers can continue to make reservations through Oct. 30 using the call center. The phone number, 1-800-44-PARKS, will remain unchanged. Reservations through the website, 
www.midnrreservations.com, will be possible until Oct. 22 at 8 p.m., when the website will be taken down to begin the transition process to the new website. The website address will not change.
Additional important transition dates include:
 
  • Oct. 22-31: Website reservations cannot be made. The call center will remain active throughOct. 30, taking reservations for dates through Oct. 31, 2013.
  • Oct. 25: The new reservation website goes live. Although reservations cannot yet be made on the website, customer profiles can be created and viewers can navigate the site to create familiarity.
  • Oct. 31: Reservations cannot be made. State parks can register walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Nov. 1: The new CRS (both the website and the call center) opens to state park lodging, which typically has a one-year reservation window (camper cabins, mini-cabins, rustic cabins, yurts and modern lodges). Reservations for these facilities can now be made for dates after Oct. 31, 2013. From Nov. 1-2, campsites and slips are not reservable. During this time, campsites and slips are available at the facility on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Nov. 3: The system opens to facilities with a six-month reservation window. These include campsites at state parks and select state forest campgrounds and harbor slips. 
During the transition phase, updates and CRS-related press releases are available by visiting the DNR website http://michigan.gov/stateparks and clicking on A New and Improved Campground Reservation System is Launching on November 1st.